In the interest of full disclosure, I think it’s fair to tell you that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for exactly three weeks.
And for the first two weeks, I was on vacation.
So, in summary, I’ve got a whopping one week of stay-at-home mothering under my belt. But really, this isn’t about the length of my tenure. It’s about the reasons why, after more than seven years as a working mom, I threw in the towel and decided to stay home with my kids.
1) Scheduling was stressful once my son hit school age. We’ve actually been really fortunate in this area as my husband has been able to get off of work early enough to get our son off the bus, avoiding a need for after-school care. But there were still those weeks – business trips, early release, school breaks and the dreaded extended summer – that just left me scrambling for childcare. I always thought it would get easier once he started school. It turned out to be the opposite.
2) My kids are so fun to hang out with. I’ll be the first to admit that I skipped the intensive, isolating, boring, lonely years where you’re bound by nap schedules and your kid isn’t exactly great company. Now both my kids are at ages where we can leave at the drop of a hat and do fun things – with friends, no less! – that we ALL enjoy. And they’re such fun, enjoyable little people!
3) I’ve got hobbies I want to pursue. For the first several years of motherhood I really felt like I lost myself. Even if I had time to myself, I didn’t really know how to fill it in a way that was personally fulfilling. But now, I do. And when I’m working outside the home, my ability to spend time on things outside of work and mothering and wife-ing and housekeeping is severely limited.
4) I’ve got dreams I want to chase. For years, I’ve had this dream on the back burner. I made some half-hearted attempts to pursue it, but was always limited by time. Meanwhile I watched friends who were courageous and chased their own, and who continued to encourage me in mine. I came to the realization that I was using my lack of time as an excuse and as a way to mask my fear of failure; it was time to face it head-on.
5) I’m in a different place than I was several years ago. From the very beginning of my motherhood journey I always insisted that I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I said that I wouldn’t enjoy it, that I wouldn’t be good at it, that it wasn’t a good fit. And that was 100% true. But ever so slowly there has been a subtle shift in my heart that has been drawing me home and I really do think I’ll enjoy it – and be better at it – than if I would have quit my job seven years ago.
6) My son needs me more. To respect his privacy I won’t go into this in great detail, but suffice it to say that I’ve found my super easy-going kid to need way more attention and one-on-one time since he started school. This was the complete opposite of my expectations, which bought into the idea that young children are the ones who need their mamas the most.
7) I refuse to be a slave to my anxiety. I worry. A lot. I worry about money and the future and all the what-ifs in life. But I’ve realized that instead of making me “responsible,” the level that I cared about all those things made me a slave. A slave to safety. And instead of enhancing my life, it severely limited it.
8) I didn’t love my job. If I was in love with my job and felt fulfilled, this would be a completely different article. I don’t think that working motherhood is a “wrong” choice by any means. And while the work that I did was socially meaningful and really important for a lot of people, it wasn’t the work that God put on my heart to do long-term. If I was going to spend 10 hours a day away from my kids, I wanted it to be for something I found worthwhile. I finally decided that, for me, it wasn’t.
9) Financially, it’s do-able. I’d be remiss if I ignored the financial aspect, because it is a factor. Millions of women would like to quit their jobs but simply can’t. So I have to admit that, for us, the numbers work. They’re not abundant, but our kids will eat and have a place to live. That’s far more than many.
10) I’m craving a slower pace. I’m not gonna lie. I rocked working motherhood. My kids were happy and well cared for, my house was reasonably clean, and I got a homemade dinner on the table every night. We didn’t live in chaos, but efficiency was always on high. Weekends were made for laundry and grocery shopping. Weeknights were made for cooking and homework. There wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle room in the routine for spontaneity, since one day of fun just pushed all the regularly scheduled housework to the next day. For this introvert, what I’m loving more than anything is having enough slowness to fill myself up so I have more available to give to other people. On my first day of unemployment I helped a friend move at the last minute. This last weekend I was available for a family member. Yesterday I was able to say “yes” to a fun day I’d otherwise have had to turn down. I couldn’t be happier with the slow, flexible schedule I’m now able to enjoy.
And those, my friends, are ten reasons I quit my job to stay home with my kids. I did feel a little bit selfish writing this list, admitting that most of the reasons I chose to stay home were for my own benefit. Only one of the above items is directly for the benefit of my children.
But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I still firmly believe that both working and stay-at-home motherhood can be done incredibly well, or incredibly poorly. It’s not one-size-fits-all for anyone, just as a commitment to one camp or the other isn’t necessarily permanent.
Which is why, after seven years of working motherhood, I decided it was time to change sides and stay home with my kids.